Should my child do the hardest homework assignment first?

Sometimes it’s best for kids with learning and thinking differences to do easier assignments first. Learn why, and get homework tips from a special education teacher.

Q. Homework is a challenge for my son. We have him start right after school and with the toughest task first. But that doesn’t seem to be working. What advice do you have?

A. For many people, doing the hardest or most overwhelming thing first is the best way to get started on tasks. But for kids with learning and thinking differences, this method can backfire. Starting with the most frustrating thing can set the tone for the rest of the tasks. 

Give kids a break first

But before kids even start on homework, it’s important to consider their schedule and needs. Is your son ready to do homework right after school? Maybe not.

Many kids need a break between school and homework to relax and have a snack. Some kids need physical activity, like riding a bike, to burn off steam before they can focus on homework. Try giving your son a good break before his homework time begins.

Start with an easier assignment

When your son is ready to work, have him start with an easier assignment. This way he can start off with something that isn’t as frustrating. You want your child to feel successful and motivated to keep working.

When your child gets to the harder assignments, suggest breaking them down into smaller, more manageable tasks. Help your child pick the specific steps to take one at a time. This can make the assignment feel less overwhelming and more doable.

Your son may not be able to finish all of his homework. But be sure to celebrate any of his progress. Even if he doesn’t complete the hardest parts of an assignment, recognize his effort. This can help build confidence.

Talk to your child’s teacher

If homework continues to be a struggle, reach out to your child’s teachers for support and guidance. They may have insights or strategies to help him manage these tasks better. If your child has an or a , you could ask about homework accommodations, if they aren’t already in place.

Looking for more homework tips? Listen to this podcast episode about homework battles.


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